State Attorney General Dennis C. Vacco announced Wednesday that he was alerting two area pest-control companies of his intent to sue them for allegedly misleading advertising.
Vacco said he will sue Empire State Exterminating Inc. and A-1 International Exterminators after a yearlong investigation into Yellow Pages advertising by pest-control firms.
"Both firms have ignored repeated attempts by my office to change their advertising, which would lead consumers to believe their pest-control services are absolutely safe," Vacco said.
After meeting with representatives of the attorney general's office, 78 other pest-control firms signed contracts agreeing to stop misleading ads. Vacco said Empire and A-1 attended meetings with representatives of his office but declined to sign the contract.
"Empire advertised itself in the Yellow Pages as offering 'Natural products to protect the ones you love,' accompanied by a picture of a child and a puppy," Vacco said. "In reality, the company uses a variety of potentially toxic pesticides, including one that has been classified as a possible human carcinogen. In fact, the federal Environmental Protection Agency prohibits pesticide label claims that any pesticide contains all-natural ingredients."
Steve Dorobiala, vice president of Empire State Exterminating, said that if he had signed the contract, he would have been lying.
"I'm not going to sign their Gestapo paperwork," he said.
Dorobiala said he was falsely accused and plans to countersue the state for court costs.
"Everything we use is natural or organic," Dorobiala said. "We use things like boric acid, which is found in things like eyewashes, and natural pyrethrum, which is taken from mums and daisies."
He said Vacco's representatives did not investigate his business.
"I either had to lie under oath by signing their paperwork or defend myself in court," Dorobiala said.
Vacco said A-1 advertised that "safety to humans, pets and the environment is our No. 1 priority."
"Simply put, no pesticide can be described as safe," Vacco said. "To portray them as such is inherently misleading."
Vacco also sent five-day notices to Big Apple Pest Control Inc. in Manhattan and Safe & Sound Pest Control in Yonkers.